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M-Learning in Ghana, the perfect educational solution?

Ghana is a country that does not have a coherent policy for education infrastructure. At the same time, rising rates of mobile phone use among the population make this country ripe for an m-learning revolution. School infrastructure in Ghana can be very poor, with inadequate ventilation, security features (for example, for laboratory equipment) safety for flooring and other issues. These conditions can make it especially difficult for learners with disabilities either to make it to school in the first place or to learn in comfort once they are there. M-learning is a viable nation wide solution to these defects in Ghana’s present education infrastructure. M-Learning has the potential to reach all students in the country through the simple medium of their mobile phones. As a result, it would surmount the difficulties inherent in Ghana’s less than perfect current educational infrastructure.

The power of m-learning in Ghana: the current situation

Ghana has one of the best developed mobile phone markets in all of Africa. In fact, most Ghanaians do not only own a mobile, they also prefer to use their mobile instead of using a landline. Most Ghanaians also prefer to access the internet through their mobile phones rather than via a fixed wifi or cable internet system in the home. Though 3G coverage in Ghana is relatively new, this is also growing as well, which again suggests that the future of m-learning in Ghana will be a very positive one. MTN Ghana, Vodafone, Tigo and Airtel are the four largest mobile phone providers in Ghana, with MTN Ghana being by far the biggest provider (having cornered around 50 % of the market). With both affordable pay as you go and sim packages readily available in Ghana, m-learning has the potential to reach the whole of the country’s population. Ghana is currently classed as a middle income country, which means that its citizens are usually able to afford items such as mobile phones. In addition, app literacy in Ghana is very prevalent, with exciting new apps for both learning and leisure (like Esoko and RetailTower) being developed in the country every year.

Integrating m-learning with secondary and tertiary educational institutions in Ghana

The secondary education system in Ghana is known as Senior High School, and it can often be supplemented or even (in parts) replaced by m-learning. What is particularly pertinent to know is that ICT is actually part of the ‘integrated science’ section of the SHS curriculum, which means that new generations of Ghanaians are growing up with the skills that they need to learn via the web. Though the buzz of the classroom environment can be something that benefits learners, as mentioned above, not all schools in Ghana are totally fit for purpose and thus m-learning is a viable alternative to both the SHS curriculum and to TVET (vocational training) curricula that are offered after completion of the SHS.

When it comes to tertiary education, Ghana has 49 private universities and 6 public universities. Many of these institutions are focused around a specific subject, such as Agriculture. E-learning is already well integrated into the curricula of many of Ghana’s top universities. For example, the University of Ghana has recently created the KEWL – Knowledge Environment for Web Based Learning – initiative. Many online courses are also available as part of the rise and rise of e-learning in the country. In addition, the edtech phenomenon of MOOC has really been taking off throughout Ghana and Sub-Sahara Africa. MOOC is an initiative which offers an online course to a large number of people and it is usually free of charge. This initiative is, as may be expected, particularly useful for low income or very poor communities in Sub-Sahara Africa for whom financial factors would otherwise pose a significant barrier to their ability to access education. As a result, mobile learning projects could simply adapt and build on the existing e-learning infrastructure in Ghana’s tertiary education system.

There is a rising amount of local and regional companies which provide products and materials for online courses and exam preparations, the classical fields of m-learning. This African providers guide illustrates a list of edtech startups in several countries.

Estimation of the future of the power of M-learning in Ghana

The future of the power of m-learning in Ghana looks very bright. This is due to two key factors. Firstly, the existing educational infrastructure is – particularly at the secondary level – often physically and materially inadequate for students to learn successfully. As such, there is a clear problem here that mobile learning could solve. Secondly, Ghana’s population is made up of some of Africa’s most skilled, savvy and frequent mobile phone users. The ubiquity of mobile phones means that the uptake of m-learning strategies would likely be very high. Add to this the fact that many tertiary education institutions in the country are already using e-learning platforms and other edtech to teach students remotely (for example, through online courses) and the future of m-learning across the country looks very positive indeed.

By Jens Ischebeck

Stunnah Gee ‘International Girl’ impact date 8th December

The long-awaited club banger from AfroBeats all-star Stunnah Gee entitled International Girl is now available! The track has the slick production style and distinctive vocals fans have come to know and love from Stunnah Gee. International Girl features a glossy, fun music video aimed at empowered women of all cultures. Produced by the talented and prolific producer P2j, the song centres around Stunnah’s description of a special lady in his life; being a goddess in his view, with her best features originating from cultures around the globe.

“I’m inspired by women in general, but I wanted to appreciate ladies from all around the world. What is different from anything I’ve done before is that this song has a very international-pop feel. It’s a different sound, it’s a different style. I can’t wait for my fans to hear it!” Stunnah Gee

Despite the success of his previous hit single Dengeme (Remix) featuring BET award nominee & Sony signed afrobeat legend Davido, Stunnah Gee’s follow up single International Girl looks set to eclipse Dengeme’s impact and establish Stunnah Gee as an global star. International Girl adopts an internationally accessible direction, blending AfroBeats, pop, moombahton with a touch of reggae. Stunnah Gee is best known by the music he released over the last 3 years which criss-crosses the African continent and cuts through the music genre that is now known as AfroBeats.

Stunnah Gee, also known as Felix Olajide Omolafe, takes inspiration from a unique blend of western influences and legendary west African musical heavyweights such as Fela Kuti, Fuse ODG & William Oneyearbor. Stunnah Gee briefly relocated to Nigeria in 2015 and quickly became part of the new wave of Afrobeat stars. However, he became frustrated by the lack of available structured pathways to commercial success and returned to the UK with a vision. He wants to share his music and shape the afrobeat music industry to ensure new talent doesn’t go unheard in the future.

African delegation takes part in the 19th World Festival of Youth and Students in Sochi

A delegation of young talents from Africa are actively participating in the World Festival of Youth and Students (WFYS) which is currently being held in Sochi, Russia. The festival started on October 14 and will run until October 22 in the resort town which recently hosted the Winter Olympic Games and Formula 1 Grand Prix in 2014. Young people aged between 18 and 35 are engaged in numerous activities, discussions and competitions, nearly 25,000 guests from 185 countries are participating in this year’s festival. 

The Russian State Atomic Energy Corporation Rosatom has also made its contribution, by inviting and hosting gifted young African professionals and students, who are interested in science and innovation. “We are happy that we were able to provide this exciting opportunity to our future African leaders, to gain knowledge and exchange experience with their peers on a global level,” said Viktor Polikarpov, Rosatom regional Vice-President of Sub-Saharan Africa.

A specialized programme includes events related to science and education, group discussions as well as cultural and sport activities. The main agenda of the discussion programme encompasses the 17 Sustainable Development Goals, adopted by the United Nations.

The festival attracts proactive young people from all over the world, most of whom are already leaders in their respective fields. Numerous young specialists from Kenya, Ghana, Nigeria, Zimbabwe and South Africa are among the attendees, most of whom are oriented towards research and the development of new technologies.

The young talents are engaged in various activities, creative workshops, brainstorming sessions and round tables to try find answers to some of the globes most burning questions. Issues of ecology, sustainable development and international cooperation are in the limelight of the scientific focused section of the Festival.

During a round-table discussion the representative from Zimbabwe, Simbarashe Mhuriro, demonstrated benefits of sustainable energy development. He leads the company Oxygen Africa, which focuses on energy, mining and agriculture. Simbarashe argues that in Africa only two percent of the population has stable access to electricity, and the use of diesel engines is both expensive and destructive for ecology. Therefore, the young businessman is championing sustainable sources of energy, which can help global population to resolve current energy problems.

Nigerian born Chukwudi Ojinnaka, who currently studies nuclear engineering at the National Research Nuclear University MEPhI in Moscow, notes that the Festival provides exciting opportunities for young professionals to meet different people with different ideas from all over the world. He highlights that these very ideas will help the future generations achieve their goals.

In collaboration with other participants of the festival, this young Nigerian talent is working tirelessly on the project of the ‘aqua-cities’ – self-sustainable cities floating cities, that will be engineered to help to solve the overpopulation problem in the future.

Surf’s Up! A Look at Ghana’s Emerging Surfing Community

Michael Bentum can do 360 surf turns with perfection. He rides the waves along the coast of Busua, Ghana, with height and speed. His surfboard soars beside the ocean swell, as crowds of children watch from the coastline applauding in admiration. Bentum is their surfing hometown hero.

“I can tell you now that I’m the best in Ghana,“ the 21-year-old said. Bentum recently won the International Surfing Day Competition, held in the Krokrobite suburb of Accra. He took home a surfboard from Share the Stoke, a watch from Rip Curl and 500 Cedis ($112).

Forty-six surfers from 17 countries traveled here for the competition. Three are from Ghana. It’s the 12th surfing event in the country organized by Brett Davies of England. He owns Mr. Bright’s Surf School and wants the world to know that Africans have been surfing for centuries.

“Most Africans are very fit and athletic,” he explained. “The African surfers I have had the pleasure of surfing with and coach pick up surfing fast.”

Bentum, Ghana’s best surfer is from Busua — about four hours west of Accra. Children living in this small fisherman’s village also grow up surfing as way of life. Their playground is a raw, untapped beach. Women walk on the sand carrying items on their heads and babies swaddled in clothe on their backs. It’s picturesque Africa.

A surfer surfs the ocean swell in Accra, Ghana. Picture by Mr. Brights

Peter Ansah, owner of Ahanta Waves Surf School & Camp, says their home is a surfer’s paradise. “When I was small, I would always come to the beach and try to surf with a piece of wood.” As a child, he met a couple from the United States using surfboards at Busua beach. Intrigued by the long pointy structure, he asked to use it in place of wood – falling in love with catching waves.

“Whenever I’m surfing, I forget about everything. I have nothing to think about. The only thing is that I enjoy it!” he described. He’s been surfing for 13 years and opened his surf school for locals and tourists alike. “A lot of people think it’s not possible to surf in Ghana because they think there’s no waves or no ocean in Ghana,”Ansah said.

However, Ian Fraser from California said he’s familiar with surfing in the country from the 1960’s movie “Endless Summer.” It depicts a scene of kids surfing on wood. He’s in Busua taking his daughter and her teammates to Ahanta Waves for lessons.

“I saw the surf school and thought oh we should come here with the girls when we don’t have a game and go surfing with everybody,” Fraser said.

Ansah also teaches free lessons to the kids here. He wants them to be apart of the next generation of African surfers. “When you’re talking about surfing, they don’t normally count Ghana,” he explained. “When you travel to South Africa, it is an African country but all the surfers are white people.” Star surfer Bentum helps out too, teaching them lessons every Friday after school.

To keep up with growing interest, a program called Surf and Impact was formed. Volunteers from

Impact’s upcoming surfers share a laugh with their program’s director, Ebenezer Feliz Bentum. Picture by Erica Ayisi

Europe and the United States live with a family in Busua for a nominal fee and teach the budding surfers. Director Ebenezer Feliz Bentum feels the global exposure will help the 20 students in the program become international surfers. “There a few kids who have big potential to be big stars in the surfing industry,” he said.

14-year-old Clement Cobbinah learned how to inspect the surfboard leash, attach it to his ankle, and stand on it through this program.

“It was a bit scary and nervous on my first day,” he admitted. “But it got better and fun, especially on my first time standing up on the surfboard and riding the wave.”

Surfing is costly for a developing country like Ghana. A surfboard costs at least $625. A family here earns about half that amount in a month. Sandy Alibo from France assists Surf and Impact by shipping donated boards to Busua from Europe.

To sustain surfing here Alibo wants Ghanaians to manufacture it domestically. “I would love to teach Ghanaians how to shape the boards by themselves and produce the board in Ghana directly,” she said.

Bentum walked confidently with his surfboard in one hand and giving the signature “surf-ups” symbol with the other. As long as the children around him continue learning the ways of the waves, he said surfing in Ghana is here to stay.

“It’s not only Europeans surfing. We are surfing in Africa and right here in Ghana too.”

Article via NBCNews

Deon Boakye releases new single ‘Konongo Kaya’

HardBoy Entertainment poster boy Deon Boakye releases new piece titled ‘Konongo Kaya’ featuring Strongman and produced by TubhaniMuzik.

Off his 17-track Green Mixtape, the tune delves into their relationship where the lady leaves them for another person because they are not financially stable but later wants to return when things are better.

The tune starts off with the Sarkcess Music signee Strongman’s verse with his witty but dope lyrics. Followed by the sweet silky voice of Deon Boakye singing his heart away like there is no tomorrow.

Deon Boakye is most known for his song ‘Dab’ which features Rapper Medikal. Aside that, the singer cum graphic designer has songs with Ko-Jo Cue, Kof Kinaata, Haywaya, Jason Ela, Cabum among others.

Listen to the song:

Rachel Kerr presents new single ‘Alive’ and New Reality Show!

‘ALIVE’ Rachel Kerr’s first single from her debut album, due for release next year.

She calls her lead single Alive the ‘overcomers anthem’, a powerful anthem written for every person who has survived what was meant to take them out.

Alive is already poised to feature in a hit movie next year and you may hear it on a major TV show this spring. But you didn’t hear that from us.

Available now on all platforms (iTunes, Spotify, Tidal, Amazon etc)

Listen to ‘Alive’ here

You can also catch up on Rachel Kerr’s new reality show featuring her serial entrepreneur husband Ayo Olatunji. Watch episode 2 below:

Out of the System festival by critically acclaimed dance artist Freddie Addaie-Opoku comes to Shoreditch

Dance Umbrella, London’s leading international dance festival, has invited critically acclaimed dance artist Freddie Addaie-Opoku to create a festival-within-a-festival at Rich Mix in Shoreditch.

Described by Time Out as a “buzzing global mix of grassroots music and dance” Out of the System showcases artists who take the liberty of making up the rules and breaking them as they go along.

With influences stretching from South Africa to Spain, Ghana to Belgium, Britain to the USA, get ready for an evening of ingenious local and global talent. Come and roam through the performances, exploring a vibrant fusion of cultures and influences as you go.

Live music is provided by two bands and a DJ: the groove machine band Yaaba Funkand Composer/ DJ artist session with Kweku Aacht can be seen on Monday, and multicultural Kioko bring their head bopping tunes to the party on Tuesday.

If you’d like to find out more about the thinking behind Out of the System, and from other artists who work in a similar way, come along to Dance Umbrella’s panel discussion on Wed 18 October at Wayne McGregor Studio.

Venue: Rich Mix (35-47 Bethnal Green Rd, London E1 6LA)

ON 16 & TUE 17 OCTOBER
TICKETS
£25 (£20 for 2+)
£12 bands only, from 9.15pm

BOOK HERE

Panel Discussion
A discussion on how artists navigate their way through, in and out of the system

Chair: Peggy Olislaegers
Panel: Yinka Esi Graves, Simeilia Hodge-Dallaway, Sello Pesa & Charlotte Spencer

WED 18 OCTOBER7 – 8.30pm
Studio Wayne McGregor, Here East E20

£5, free to Out of the System ticket holders
BOOK HERE

Is Rawlings really the founder of the NDC?

Former president Jerry John Rawlings has never been happy with the performance of the NDC presidents that came after him, namely Atta-Mills and John Mahama as regards to probity and accountability. He put excessive pressure on the two former presidents and accused them of incompetence. His criticisms drew him apart from the presidency. Those who benefitted from the corrupt and administration of the two presidents saw Rawlings as an enemy. Most of the time, the party held national and executive meetings and conferences without inviting Rawlings. Sadly enough, such attitudes of hatred by the top brass of the NDC have compelled Rawlings to do what he is doing. Observers from other parties felt that it was unfortunate to treat the founder of the party this way. But do his party members consider him as a founder?

Rawlings is generally considered as the founder of the NDC but, now and then, there are voices which challenge this view. A chief proponent of this view has been Obed Asamoah, a long-time member of Rawlings’ governments in their military and civilian incarnations. In an exclusive interview with Emera Appawu of Joy News, Obed Asamoah explained that when it was time to file the registration of the NDC, Rawlings was still in the Ghana Armed Forces so he could not have represented any district as a founding father. However, Dr Obed Asamoah explained that after the party had been set, a clause was fixed in the party’s constitution to recognize the contribution of Rawlings to the ideals upon which the party was founded.

Obed Asamoah made this position even clearer in his memoirs: The Political History of Ghana

Obed Asamoah

(1950-2013) – The Experience of a Non-Conformist published in 2014, where he stated that the idea of founding the NDC was a collective one taken by a group to which Rawlings was not part of. The group saw Rawlings as the best person to lead the new party and approached him with the idea. Rawlings accepted. It is, therefore, clear that the initiative of forming the party did not come from Rawlings. This can be compared with the formation of the CPP where the idea for the party germinated in the mind of Kwame Nkrumah who brought it into being, provided it with much of its ideological direction, singularly led it from its beginnings through all its glorious years and eventual demise. Today the CPP has been struggling without its revered founder. The NDC, on the other hand, has won elections even without Rawlings leading it.

The issue of who founded what can be a tricky one as we are seeing in the current debate about who founded Ghana. Even though Rawlings did not himself initiate the idea of forming the NDC from the remnants of the PNDC, he was the very personification of the party, at least in the initial stages. The party was built around him. It is doubtful if the party could have won the first two elections in the Fourth Republic without Rawlings leading it. That is why people generally regard him as the founder.

The same argument can be tweaked to apply to the foundation of Ghana. Even though the Gold Coast may have been in existence before Nkrumah burst on the political scene in the colony, the fact of our independence became personified in him. He was the very face of our independence and, by extension, the new nation. That is why people associate the founding of the nation with him. It does not mean they think there were no others in the independence struggle. Nkrumah’s contributions were unique and it is easier for people to connect with an individual and accord him a symbolic status than with an amorphous group of persons each of whose contributions cannot be accurately gauged.

Valerie Sawyer

And so Rawlings is likely to continue being regarded as the founder of the NDC in the popular mind, no matter what Obed Asamoah says. The question then becomes: is Rawlings trying to destroy what he created? It can be said that all of Rawlings’ bad-mouthing of his own party shows him in character. The pointing out of the ills of our society and the condemnation of others have been Rawlings’ trademarks as a public person since his first coup day speech on radio. The party and Ghanaians, generally, have endured his antics. Now and then, they try to give it back to him. Now, it seems a section of the party hierarchy can take it no longer. Valerie Sawyer’s outburst a few weeks ago is symptomatic of this feeling. Obed Asamoah quickly came to Sawyerr’s defence while others attacked her. Alhaji Bature has gone so far as to suggest that Rawlings should be sacked from his own party.

What particularly irks a section of the party hierarchy is what they think is his dancing with the ruling party when he gives Akufo-Addo a clean bill of health when it comes to corruption, and threatening that his own party would not regain power even in 2020 unless it changes its ways. They point out that the NPP itself, under the Kufuor government, was very corrupt and Akufo-Addo was part of that government and that Rawlings’ own life is not beyond reproach. His wife has become rich from deals that are tainted with corruption, all his children received higher education abroad at great expense, he lives a lifestyle far above that of the ordinary Ghanaian who he claims to be fighting for and he received what is clearly bribe money from Abacha. He has also exhibited the greed that is characteristic of all African leaders and the political elite: becoming rich through the acquisition of political power. Rawlings has been calling on his party to return to its founding principles but he may not agree that the erosion of those principles started under his watch.

Of late there is the belief that he is losing his influence over the party and therefore his deliberate scheme of blame and vituperations are meant to destroy the NDC party.

The Rawlings family felt very much disturbed and frustrated by the kind of treatment meted out to them

Nana Konadu Agyemang

by the NDC top hierarchy. Mrs Rawlings took a bold step to move out of NDC and through her admirers a new platform called Friends of Nana Konadu Agyemang Rawlings (FONKAR) was created. She later did everything possible to form a new party. Even though she craftily chose a party name whose letters (NDP) were intended to confuse the illiterate voter because it sounded midway between NDC and NPP when they are pronounced or seen. It is believed that her intention of forming the party was not to win but to split the NDC votes. Did she succeed?

It is difficult to predict what the intentions of Rawlings are. Does he intend to obliterate the name of the party with which he has been associated from the political map of Ghana, or is he just trying to make himself still relevant in Ghanaian politics? What he really intends to do lies within the womb of time.

By Stephen Atta Owusu

Obesity Was Rising as Ghana Embraced Fast Food. Then Came KFC

The growing popularity of fried chicken and pizza in parts of Africa underscores how fast food is changing habits and expanding waistlines.

After finishing high school a decade ago, Daniel Awaitey enrolled in computer courses, dropped out to work in a hotel, then settled into a well-paying job in the booming oil sector here.

He has an apartment, a car, a smartphone and a long-distance girlfriend he met on a dating website. So he had reasons and the means to celebrate his 27th birthday in late July. His boss and co-workers joined him for an evening of laughter and selfies, lingering over dinner at his favorite restaurant: KFC.

Mr. Awaitey first learned about the fried chicken chain on Facebook. The “finger lickin’ good” slogan caught his attention and it has lived up to expectations. “The food is just ——” he said, raising his fingertips to his mouth and smacking his lips. “When you taste it you feel good.”

Chicken Inn, a KFC competitor, in the Accra Mall. A sharp increase in obesity has accompanied an embrace of Western foods in the country.

Ghana, a coastal African country of more than 28 million still etched with pockets of extreme poverty, has enjoyed unprecedented national prosperity in the last decade, buoyed by offshore oil. Though the economy slowed abruptly not long ago, it is rebounding and the signs of new fortune are evident: millions moving to cities for jobs, shopping malls popping up and fast food roaring in to greet people hungry for a contemporary lifestyle.

Chief among the corporate players is KFC, and its parent company, YUM!, which have muscled northward from South Africa — where KFC has about 850 outlets and a powerful brand name — throughout sub-Saharan Africa: to Angola, Tanzania, Nigeria, Uganda, Kenya, Ghana and beyond. The company brings the flavors that have made it popular in the West, seasoned with an intangible: the symbolic association of fast food with rich nations.

But KFC’s expansion here comes as obesity and related health problems have been surging. Public health officials see fried chicken, french fries and pizza as spurring and intensifying a global obesity epidemic that has hit hard in Ghana — one of 73 countries where obesity has at least doubled since 1980. In that period, Ghana’s obesity rates have surged more than 650 percent, from less than 2 percent of the population to 13.6 percent, according to the Institute for Health Metrics and Evaluation, an independent research center at the University of Washington.

The causes of obesity are widely acknowledged as complex — involving changing lifestyles, genetics, and, in particular, consumption of processed foods high in salt, sugar and fat.

KFC’s presence in Ghana so far is relatively modest but rapidly growing, and it underscores the way fast food can shape palates, habits and waistlines.

Research shows that people who eat more fast food are more likely to gain weight and become obese, and nutrition experts here express deep concern at the prospect of an increasingly heavy and diabetic population, without the medical resources to address a looming health crisis that some say could rival AIDS.

“You are what you eat,” said Charles Agyemang, a Ghanaian who is now an associate professor at the University of Amsterdam, where he studies obesity and chronic disease. KFC alone, he said, is only one factor in the country’s obesity epidemic, but it represents the embrace of western foods. In Ghana, he said, “eating local foods in some places is frowned upon. People see the European type as civilized.”

“This is having a major impact on obesity and heart disease.”

KFC executives see a major opportunity here to be part of people’s regular routines, a goal they are advancing through a creative marketing campaign and use of social media. When asked if it is unhealthy for people to eat fried chicken often, Kimberly Morgan, a KFC spokeswoman in Plano, Texas, said, “At KFC, we’re proud of our world famous, freshly in-store prepared fried chicken and believe it can be enjoyed as a part of a balanced diet and healthy lifestyle.”

Company representatives said they take health seriously in the region, noting their sponsorship of a youth cricket league in South Africa. The company, they said, has worked to make their menu more diverse and healthier.

“That’s why we provide consumers choice,” said Andrew Havinga, who runs the supply chain for KFC’s Africa division. “We do believe in a healthy, balanced lifestyle.”

Schoolgirls and a KFC just outside Accra. The company established a beachhead in South Africa, opening there in the early 1970s, and has expanded steadily through sub-Saharan Africa

For now, though, KFC customers in Ghana have fewer healthy options than in Western countries. Grilled chicken, salads and sides like green beans and corn, standard at KFC in the United States, aren’t available here. Mr. Havinga said KFC hoped to offer Ghanaians more options eventually. “That’s part of our journey,” he said.

KFC emphasizes its focus on food sanitation and cleanliness. Ghanaian customers interviewed spoke appreciatively of the tidy containers used for takeout and the hairnets worn by workers.

“We wouldn’t go into a market unless we are comfortable that we can deliver the same food safety standards that we deliver around the world and people see that,” Greg Creed, the chief executive of YUM!, said in an interview last year on CNN. “They actually trust us that it’s so much safer to eat at a KFC in Ghana, than it is to eat obviously, you know, pretty much anywhere else.”

Some nutrition experts bristle at the implication.

“To say it’s the safest food is a bit like saying my hand grenade is the safest hand grenade,” said Mike Gibney, an emeritus professor of food and health at University College Dublin. “Ghanaians would be better off eating less KFC. But that is the way of the world I’m afraid.”

In Ghana, a place that suffered severe food shortages as recently as the early 1980s, attempts at curbing obesity have butted up against long held societal views: girth can be a welcome sight here. To many, weight gain is an acceptable side effect of a shift from hunger to joyful consumption.

“People march their sons and daughters to buy KFC and buy pizza and they like to show them what we

Daniel Awaitey, center, celebrated his 27th birthday with friends at a KFC in Accra in July. “When I grew up I did not have the benefits I’m enjoying today,” Mr. Awaitey said of the restaurant. “This didn’t even exist.”

can afford,” said Matilda Laar, who lectures about family and consumer sciences at the University of Ghana. KFC isn’t just food, she said. “It’s social status.”

Mr. Awaitey, who celebrated his 27th birthday at a KFC, was raised eating local dishes like soup and banku, a mix of fermented corn and cassava dough. He has increasingly made KFC part of his routine. Some nights on his way home from work, he turns off a sewer-lined street — jammed with cars and crisscrossed by men hawking sunglasses and women selling doughnuts from baskets they carry on their heads — and steps into a world transformed: a tidy, air-conditioned KFC where Bruno Mars blares. He orders dinner with a Coke, sitting in a translucent red plastic chair at a white table beneath giant faux Polaroids of children blowing bubbles in a park and a couple strolling on a beach.

“When I grew up I did not have the benefits I’m enjoying today,” Mr. Awaitey said. “This didn’t even exist.

‘Skin in the Game’

In late July, Ashok Mohinani, whose company owns all the KFC franchises in Ghana, dabbed away a smear on a plate-glass window in the dining room of a KFC on the outskirts of Accra as customers trickled in after the doors opened at 10 a.m. It was the newest KFC in the nation, the 13th so far, and Mr. Mohinani was eager to see how it would be received.

The executive director of Mohinani Group, he came to restaurants late, after years in other industries, notably plastics. In 2011, he saw potential in fast food. Incomes were rising as Ghana’s oil business took off and other commodities soared; that year the country achieved “lower middle-income” status, according to the World Bank. Its economy had grown 7 percent a year since 2005.

In Accra, the country’s densely populated capital, it was plain that diets were changing. Mr. Mohinani had watched street fare evolve from stews and porridges to fried rice and knockoff Cheetos. Vendors now stocked glass cabinets with fried chicken, which in the past families served only on holidays.

The first fast food restaurants to move in were local chains that served fried chicken and mimicked Western brands. Mr. Mohinani was convinced a foreign chain would succeed.

“The obvious brand,” he said, “was KFC.”

KFC had established a beachhead in South Africa, opening there in the early 1970s. It is now so popular that its executives say they impress dinner-party guests by name-dropping the company where they work.

In 2012, Mr. Mohinani opened a KFC franchise that included the first drive-through restaurant in the nation. People streamed in on foot, just to check it out.

“It was beautiful,” he said.

Now, he said, the goal is to move KFC from a special treat to routine. Toward that end, he has opened restaurants alongside gas stations. “We want this to evolve into the idea of getting it to be a daily brand.”

It is a goal pursued by fast food companies around the world. From 2011 to 2016, fast food sales grew 21.5 percent in the United States, according to Euromonitor, a market-research firm, while they swelled 30 percent worldwide. The industry has had remarkable success in finding new mouths to feed, with 254 percent growth in Argentina, 83 percent in Vietnam, 64 percent in Egypt.

From around the globe come snapshots of fast-food’s spread. Carl’s Jr. opened Cambodia’s first drive-through fast-food restaurant in 2016, bringing Phnom Penh staples like the Western Bacon Cheeseburger; McDonald’s, with 600 Russian outlets, recently opened in Siberia and the Urals; India, which, according to Euromonitor, saw fast-food sales rise 113.6 between 2011 and 2016, now has more than 1,100 Domino’s Pizza outlets and is home to an experiment — a “Dessert Pizza,” topped with brownies, cookies, coconut nougat, cheesecake and fudge sauce.

A KFC in the Haatso district of Accra. The company emphasizes its focus on food sanitation, and customers interviewed praised the cleanliness of restaurants

While McDonald’s remains the emblem of fast food worldwide, YUM! is number two and grew 22.9 percent from 2011 to 2016, considerably faster than the burger giant’s 12.2 percent growth, according to Euromonitor. YUM!, which includes Taco Bell and Pizza Hut, has nearly 44,000 restaurants worldwide, about 17,000 of them in emerging markets as of 2016, the company said. KFC and its franchisees operate nearly 21,000 KFC restaurants in 129 countries and territories around the globe.

Crucial to its effort, the company said, is finding local franchisees like Mr. Mohinani, who have “skin in the game” as Mr. Creed, the YUM! chief executive, said on CNN. The company can rely on their knowledge of the local market and commitment to the investment.

Also crucial: mixing local culture with flavors company executives repeatedly called “aspirational.” In Ghana, KFC’s menu includes chicken and fries along with a version of jollof rice, a locally beloved spicy dish made with peppers and onions.

“People come to us for the exotic, international American brand and we don’t want to water that down,” Mr. Mohinani said. “If we made the menu entirely local we’d lose the aspiration.”

Affordability is another key ingredient. For KFC, costs here are hard to contain: the company imports chickens from Brazil, in part because local farms don’t yet meet KFC’s standards for safety and other issues; stores need generators in case of power outages; clean water is specially pumped in. Affordability got tougher since 2014 as global oil prices sank, straining the Ghanaian economy. Nevertheless, to lure more customers, Mr. Mohinani has cut menu prices — a risky move that he said has paid off with more repeat and regular visitors.

KFC has also launched a marketing campaign called “Streetwise” — a series of ads and meals it had introduced in South Africa and elsewhere that are designed to appeal to a first generation of middle-class consumers looking for new experiences. In Ghana, the campaign aims at “hustlers and influencers,” as executives called them, who rose from the streets and climbed the social ladder.

New ads debuted in May for the Streetwise 2 — two pieces of chicken, fries and a Coke — with the popular local singer Ko-Jo Cue holding a sign that says, “It’s thanks to the streets that I became a winner.”

“I get a Streetwise 2,” it continues, “and fuel my ambition.”

Health Consequences

The health effects of fast food are challenging to study, particularly in the United States. That’s because burgers, fries, fried chicken, pizzas and milkshakes get served all over the place, not just in traditional fast food joints, making it hard to establish the specific influence of fast food on obesity.

But developing countries are newer to fast food. One large-scale study, done in Singapore as it grew economically and attracted Western fast food chains, offers evidence that the arrival of McDonald’s, KFC and Pizza Hut, among others, posed a serious health risk.

The study, funded by the National Institutes of Health and published in 2012 in the journal Circulation, followed tens of thousands of Chinese Singaporeans, ages 45 to 74, from the mid-1990s to 2009. Those who ate Western fast food twice a week or more were 27 percent more likely to get type 2 diabetes, and 56 percent more likely to die from heart disease, than subjects who didn’t regularly eat such food. And the more times they ate fast food, the higher the risk of death from heart disease.

Studies like these can be challenging to interpret, nutrition experts said, because people who eat fast food can have poor dietary habits, but this study sought to isolate fast food by factoring out many other issues, like sleep, exercise and even consumption of local fried foods. It also caught Singapore as its economy matured and fast food came to town.

“It’s a parable, or microcosm, of what’s occurring in other parts of the globe,” said Andrew Odegaard, a co-author on the study.

In Ghana, data suggest the changing diet to heavier fare — including fast food but also processed foods — has led to soaring health risks.

The death rate associated with high body mass index more than doubled in Ghana from roughly 14 per 100,000 in 1990 to 40 per 100,000, according to the Institute for Health Metrics and Evaluation — and is fast approaching the global average of 54 deaths per 100,000.

The data also suggest that the changing diet has led to health risks in Ghana that are getting worse at a

Preparing chicken at KFC in the Haatso district. The company uses palm oil, which is high in saturated fats. It no longer uses the oil in the United States

rate faster than in the United States. From 1990 to 2015, deaths related to high body mass increased 179 percent in Ghana, compared to an increase of 20 percent in the United States.

Further complicating the situation in Ghana, medication for high blood pressure is expensive and patients often ration it to save money. National health insurance lags in its coverage of other diet-related diseases such as diabetes; it doesn’t cover devices to monitor blood sugar or some of the medicine to treat the side effects of diabetes.

The nation’s health system lacks a sufficient number of specialists, counselors and dietitians, let alone doctors.

Dr. Laar, the lecturer from the University of Ghana, said the lack of proper care meant that some people would live with metabolic syndrome until they dropped.

“It’s common that you’ll see someone just pass out and die,” she said.

One smoldering July day, mourners gathered in Accra to pay tribute to someone who did just that — Vivian Acheampong, 56, who had collapsed at home while hanging laundry on the clothesline and died two days later in a hospital. They fondly remembered her as they milled around and talked about what they believed had killed her. The doctors had told them one major factor was inattention to her high blood pressure: She hadn’t listened to their professional advice to change her eating habits, and she couldn’t afford all the medicine prescribed to control her condition. Relatives were convinced that her love for fried, fatty food had led her to become obese and played a role in her death.

“Every time it was oil, oil, oil,” said her son, Alfred Osei Tutu.

Under a tent decorated with red and black bunting, her relatives and friends heaped their plates with the very foods they said they had warned her against: fried chicken, fried fish, fried rice and fried okra. These offerings have become common at funerals and represent a clear change in tradition: soup and vegetables were once served to mourners.

Fried chicken and fried fish were plentiful as relatives and friends gathered after Vivian Acheampong’s funeral

Mrs. Acheampong’s son said she had only dabbled in fast food and had never eaten at KFC. But she had developed a taste for such fare, usually cooked at home, after she moved from her native village to the capital 15 years ago for a better job. An old photo propped up at the funeral showed her as a slender young woman with hollowed cheeks. In the city, the family’s diet shifted from stews and fufu, a starch made with cassava, to fried foods.

She fit squarely in a demographic most affected by rising obesity here: women living in cities. A study published last year in the journal BMC Medicine found that obesity among urban female adults in Ghana was 34 percent, compared to 8.3 percent for women in rural areas; among urban men, the rate in was 7 percent, compared to 1.3 percent in rural areas.

“You have more money, you have more food,” her son said matter-of-factly.

Birthdays, Poetry Slams and Takeout

KFC’s busiest store in Ghana is its flagship, on Oxford Street in the Osu neighborhood. The nation’s first KFC, it’s a three-story, glassy corner building on a busy retail strip across from two banks and a jewelry shop.

This summer, it drew from all walks: uniformed kids celebrating the last day of school; students from nearby universities using free Wi-Fi at corner tables; government workers ordering lunch to go; members of an artists’ collective meeting over dinner to talk about a poetry slam; a dad treating his teenage son and friends to takeout chicken.

On a weekend, the place turned raucous. A group of women dressed in tight, sparkly gowns guzzled champagne from the bottle one evening around a table littered with french fries, fried chicken and a birthday cake, taking turns smearing frosting across the face of the birthday girl. Children joined their parents, downing Coke and buckets of chicken.

Fariha Yussif brought her boyfriend to the restaurant to celebrate his 24th birthday. They stood in a doorway and took photos as friends popped into the frame.

“I like the lights here,” said Ms. Yussif, 21, pointing to the low-hanging red lamps. “I like how they arrange the tables and chairs. It’s like I’m in Germany or Canada. Everything is very nice.”

In late July, the restaurant was low on chicken, a two-day supply hiccup that dogged all of the country’s

Loretta Anaglate, 21, and a friend at the Oxford Street KFC. She said she eats at the restaurant about three times a week, but another friend said it was “every day.”

KFCs. Some customers were outraged, prompting workers to ration supplies. Loretta Anaglate, 21, photographed the chicken in her boxed meal that was supposed to contain two pieces, but was actually only one and a half pieces.

She wasn’t holding a grudge. Ms. Anaglate, who has been eating KFC since her 16th birthday, lives in a university dormitory a 10-minute walk from a KFC. She estimates she eats there three times a week.

“It’s a lie,” her friend, Loretta Adjei, interjected. “She eats here every day.”

The two young women — who favor chicken, soda and a popular milkshake-like drink called Krushers — love the brand so much they worked for a day last year as “promo girls,” handing out fliers for a new KFC.

The company has met the youth market in Ghana where it spends time — on the internet. KFC has a Facebook page and Twitter feed tailored for Ghana and ran an Instagram-based promotion that placed customers’ pictures on chicken buckets. Young people fill the company’s Facebook page with their own comments and photos.

There don’t seem to be a lot of complaints about a menu with items that, in a single meal, can challenge the daily allowance of salt, fat and sugar. According to KFC’s online nutrition calculator for Africa, the lunch box meal alone exceeds the daily recommended levels of salt and sugar, and includes trans fatty acids.

“I don’t see it as unhealthy,” said Ms. Adjei, “I’m still fit and thin.”

Local health experts said most Ghanaians don’t pay attention to nutrition data. Indeed, the kind of public and political pressure that has prompted KFC to make other changes in the West has not been felt much here.

The chickens are cooked in hot tubs of palm oil — a substance the company stopped using in the United States and Britain because, among other reasons, it is high in saturated fats. Customers in most of KFC’s African markets must go online to find calorie counts, which are not on menu boards like in the United States. The company says there is neither government nor consumer clamor to add them.

“The consumer mind-set is not asking that question generally,” said Doug Smart, managing director of KFC Africa.

Presidential Concern but Little Action

Deep inside the presidential palace in Accra, called Flagstaff House, President Nana Akufo-Addo sat in his softly lit, spacious office, decorated with patterned marble floors and ornate, cream-colored couches. A wide-screen TV was tuned to local news. He has recently shed his sharp suits, favoring comfortable print shirts made in Ghana like the bright orange one with colorful swirls he wore on a recent evening.

In office since January, the president ticked off his achievements: plans to chip away at the nation’s debt load, to increase tax revenue, to cut waste, to beat back corruption and to spur the economy. He is in the midst of fulfilling a campaign promise to build a factory in each of the nation’s 216 districts. He has begun cracking down on illegal gold mining, which is robbing the country of revenue from one of its key natural resources.

Of course, he said, he’s worried about skyrocketing obesity and related diseases. Like many of his countrymen, the round-faced president himself is overweight. He said he’s also concerned about the increase in fast food restaurants that fuel the trends but said: “I’m strongly averse to banning things.”

KFC posted a sign outside a restaurant in the Tema Harbour district of Accra in July to apologize for a chicken shortage. The company imports chickens from Brazil

It’s a quandary faced in numerous nations, from India and Brazil to China and Egypt: how to invite economic growth and move beyond scarcity, support growing populations and urbanization, all without being overtaken by two of modernity’s chief markers, processed and fast food. So far, not a single nation has been able to reverse the growth of obesity, and only a handful have succeeded in enforcing marketing reforms to limit consumer exposure.

President Akufo-Addo said he hoped to address the problem by expanding national health insurance. That, though, he said, is “a work in progress,” given the expense. So, for now, without specifics, he echoed leaders from other nations (and food companies themselves): “There must be heightened public awareness of what’s good and bad in terms of eating habits.”

Some activists have tried to prompt more action. Dr. Laar has been pushing for food labels that display nutritional content and restrictions on imports of processed food. And she wants more regulations for fast-food restaurants, “before it gets out of hand.”

“We already have a problem,” she said, “and now there is an influx of fast food companies trying to penetrate the market. We need to make sure the government is regulating how they’re trying to do that.”

She added: “We shouldn’t underestimate the impact they can have now, and in the future if they spread to rural areas.”

She was aghast to learn KFC has plans to open four new restaurants in towns outside the capital in rural areas in the next year.

“We must,” she said, “come up with more stringent laws.”

The presidential palace is not far from the country’s most popular KFC, just a short trip after crossing

A taxi driver waited for a fare in Accra. The “Streetwise” campaign, based on a marketing effort used by KFC in South Africa, is designed to appeal to a first generation of middle-class Ghanaians looking for new

Liberation Road. The day before the president outlined his priorities, a part-time pastor, Joshua Edwards, stopped at the KFC to buy chicken for five boys living in an orphanage. “It’s just a wonderful taste for them,” he said.

The pastor’s round belly strained his shirt buttons and hung far over the red stool where he waited for his order. “My health is my life, so I have to be cautious about my life,” he said. “God needs my body to do things to his glory.”

Still, Mr. Edwards said he comes to KFC almost every day, beckoned by a giant red billboard outside the store with a huge photo of crispy fried chicken and shimmering golden fries.

“You become addicted to the spices,” he said. “That’s why everybody wants to have it.”

“They don’t force us to eat here,” he added, “But it’s as if we’ve become mentally enslaved. It tantalizes us by even saying it, pulling you to where you don’t want to be.”

 Article via The New York Times